Where to Try the best hangi new zealand© Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village - Destination Rotorua
Where to Try the best hangi new zealand

Where to Try New Zealand Food: Best Hangi, Fish & Chips & More

© Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village – Destination Rotorua

Where to Try the Best Hangi, Pavlova, Fish & Chips, Pies and More!

Exploring a new country is all about experiencing a new culture and includes trying the local cuisine. If you want to eat like a local during your trip to New Zealand then these are the foods and places to eat to get an authentic New Zealand food experience. We’ll go through where to try traditional New Zealand food in this guide to the best hangi, fish and chips, pies and more.

As the world’s newest nation and the latest large country to be settled, New Zealand isn’t exactly steeped in traditional cuisines as you will find in other countries. New Zealand has a mix of Western, Polynesian and Asian influences when it comes to what New Zealanders eat. However, there are a few food staples that New Zealand has made their own, from traditional methods for cooking food used by the Maori to sweet desserts invented by Kiwis. What’s more, it’s the quality of the food that the land and sea provide that makes certain dishes in New Zealand so iconic.

Before we get started, be sure to also open up the 25 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand and The Complete Foodie Guide to New Zealand.

10 Best Places to Try New Zealand Food

If you only have one chance to try one New Zealand dish, here are the places to try them:

  1. The best hangi: Mitai Maori Village
  2. The best pie: Fairlie Bakehouse
  3. The best hangi pie: Blue Rose Cafe
  4. The best fish & chips: Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market
  5. The best Bluff oysters: Fowlers Oysters
  6. The best green-lipped mussels: Greenshell Mussel Cruise
  7. The best whitebait fritters: Cobdens Takeaways
  8. The best lamb: Brantry Eatery
  9. The best pavlova: Floriditas
  10. The best hokey pokey ice cream: Giapo.

Where to Try Traditional New Zealand Food?© NZPocketGuide.com

Where to Try the Best Hangi

What was once a common cooking method used by the Maori for more than 2,000 years is still used today for special occasions. Hangi is the process of cooking food in an underground oven, usually heated by hot stones for several hours. The food typically cooked are meats, like lamb, chicken and beef, and root vegetables like carrots, kumara (sweet potatoes) and potatoes.

Maori tours offer the chance for visitors to try this traditional food in New Zealand for themselves. Here are some of the best places to try a hangi in New Zealand:

Where to Try the Best New Zealand Pies© NZPocketGuide.com

Where to Try the Best New Zealand Pies

Savoury pies are a big deal in New Zealand. Easy to hold in one hand and available at most gas stations across the country, pies are a favourite lunchtime meal for truckers and tradies (contractors) across the country. Many bakeries, however, hold their pies to a high standard and compete every year for the “Best Pie in New Zealand”. Everyone’s got an opinion but some of the best pies in New Zealand, in our humble one, include:

The Best Whitebait in New Zealand© Pixabay

Where to Try the Best New Zealand Seafood

With more than 15,000 km (9,320 mi) of coastline and waters teeming with ocean goodness, it’s no surprise that seafood is one of the staple foods of New Zealand. Where are the best places to try seafood in New Zealand?

The Best Green-lipped Mussels in New Zealand: Havelock

These endemic mussel species have been part of the New Zealand diet for hundreds of years. It’s traditional to gather shellfish, like the green-lipped mussel, from the shores, however, they are readily available to buy in supermarkets across the country. However, the best place to try green-lipped mussels prepared in the tastiest ways, you’ll need to head to Marlborough, where 80% of New Zealand’s aquaculture is based. More specifically, the Marlborough town of Havelock boasts itself as being the “Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World”.

Havelock’s Greenshell Mussel Cruise and local restaurants all serve fresh and fantastic green-lipped mussels:

The Best Whitebait in New Zealand: West Coast

Whitebait is immature fish, usually only a couple of inches long, and New Zealanders absolutely love to eat it! The West Coast of the South Island is where the largest volume of whitebait can be found. What’s more, whitebait is one of the very few native fish species that can be harvested and sold.

Every September and November, locals flock to the West Coast river banks, sometimes on crude homemade jetties, with buckets and nets to catch this high commodity.

One of the must-try meals from whitebait is whitebait fritters, essentially whitebait in an omelette, which is best tried at the following restaurants:

Find out how to make your own whitebait fritters in our 5 Traditional New Zealand Recipes.

The Best Bluff Oysters in New Zealand: Bluff

Bluff oysters, or dredge oysters, are only found in New Zealand and Chile. They are a prized delicacy which is harvested from the Forveux Strait between the South Island and Stewart Island every March to August. While Bluff oysters can be tried all over New Zealand, the freshest and best place to try them is at the source, Bluff at the southern end of the South Island.

The best places to try Bluff oysters include:

The Best Fish & Chips in New Zealand: Raglan

A meal that was introduced in New Zealand by British colonisation but enhanced in New Zealand thanks to, well, better seafood, fish & chips is considered an iconic New Zealand meal! Consisting of fried battered fish and fries, you’ll be able to try fish & chips in most coastal towns in New Zealand.

Picking the best fish & chips in New Zealand is extremely controversial, but we make the daring choice to name our favourites right here:

Where to Try the Best New Zealand Roast Lamb© Lake Taupo Lodge - Tourism NZ

Where to Try the Best New Zealand Roast Lamb

Tender and succulent, roast lamb is a must-try in New Zealand. As New Zealand’s top export meat, it’s held in high regard all over the world. Lamb is usually slow-cooked with rosemary and a side of steamed vegetables.

Most high-end restaurants will serve lamb on the menu, however, here are some of the best places to try lamb in New Zealand:

The Best Pavlova in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

Where to Try the Best New Zealand Desserts

Another British colonial influence in New Zealand is the “sweet tooth”. New Zealand has proudly invented a few amazing desserts which they hold as signs of national pride. The most famous are the pavlova and hokey pokey ice cream.

The Best Pavlova in New Zealand

This meringue-based dessert with whipped cream and fresh fruit has been on the tables of many Kiwi families for almost a hundred years. There’s a rivalry between New Zealand and the Australians as to which country actually invented the pavlova.

Surprisingly though, not as many restaurants serve pavlova as you might think, being that it’s quite a complex dessert to make from scratch (and the premade pavlovas some restaurants serve just isn’t as good!) Nevertheless, here are a few places you’ll be able to find the best pavlova in New Zealand:

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Ice cream with honeycomb pieces inside is known as “hokey pokey” ice cream here in New Zealand. While it’s readily available in supermarkets and ice cream stands throughout the country, here are a few special places to try hokey pokey in New Zealand for yourself:

Where to Try New Zealand Food: Best Hangi, Fish & Chips & More© NZPocketGuide.com

Finally, New Zealand Snacks to Look Out For

When you’re on the road make sure you pick up these popular Kiwi snacks from any supermarket or convenience store!

  • Whittaker’s Chocolate
  • Jaffas
  • Chocolate Fish
  • Pineapple Lumps

… And try these from any local bakery or cafe!

  • Lamingtons
  • Afghan Biscuits
  • ANZAC Biscuits

For more snacks to try and where to try them, see 25 Awesome New Zealand Foods.

More About the Best Hangi, Fish & Chips, Pies, Pavlova and More

That’s it for our guide to the best places to try hangi, fish and chips, pies, pavlova and much more. However, there’s a lot more to talk about food, so make your mouth water with these other food guides:

Finally, if you want to plan a whole trip surrounding foodie experiences, take a look at itineraries such as the New Zealand Food Itinerary: 3 Weeks or North Island Food Itinerary: 2 Weeks.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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